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Not all destinations listed - Is Eurail workable for me

  • 26 November 2023
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I am travelling to Europe for the first time, flying into Rome and home from London. I am considering a Eurail, first class, 10 day travel pass, valid for 2 months. The hope is to see Florence, Cinque Terre, Milan (also Lake Como) , Venice, Fiume Veneto (near Pordenone), Vienna, Prague, Munich, Zurich, Lyon, Paris and London.

I started using the Eurail travel planner and found that it can’t find many of the places I want to go. I know that some of the lesser towns (e.g. Lake Como) will probably mean a separate bus trip or hire car. However I need to know where the main train lines run so I can make sure I can get to places I need to get to, or how close I can get them, especially Fiume Veneto where I have family. 

I thought Eurail was linked to all train lines in Europe, but I am worried that it may not be ideal for my needs.

Also, I am unsure if I am better off booking every accommodation and every train trip before I leave home, or is it easy enough to book train travel and accommodation as I travel. I am arriving in Rome April 9 and leaving London May 27.  

One more question: Am I wasting money buying a first class Eurail Pass for this trip?

 

Rob

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Best answer by thibcabe 26 November 2023, 17:18

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The Eurail map is really incomplete. The coverage works by train companies and the vast majority of railways are included. Some notable exceptions :

  • .Italo high-speed trains in Italy
  • Ouigo in France
  • Flixrail in Germany

It’s rarely an issue as there are enough covered trains on those routes.

Rail Planner app is a bit unreliable : rarely updated, doesn’t show the best connections, etc. To plan I use bahn.com/DB Navigator app for timetables (connected to the European-wide database) and Google Maps.

The closest station to Fiume Veneto will be Cusano or a bigger one is Pordenone as you said. There should be buses to Fiume Veneto. :)

About train travel : advance tickets are cheaper bought early but with Eurail you (mostly) don’t have to worry about that. Simply log the train before boarding, hop on and that’s it (loads of flexibility). Keep in mind that seat reservations are mandatory on fast/high-speed trains in Italy, France + cross-border routes. Availability vary by a lot : Italian trains can be booked the day before/on the day (frequent service) while French trains can sell out days in advance (not the case for Lyon - Paris as there are at least hourly trains!). 1st class rarely sells out.

For example the Eurostar across the Channel is very popular. It also has a passholder quota so you must book weeks in advance. 38€ reservation (one of the most expensive) with a small meal included.

I’d book accommodation in advance (refundable ones if you wish), especially on the May holiday weekends (trains and cities will be extremely busy) : 9th-12th (Ascension) + 18th-20th May (Pentecost).

No, a 1st class pass is really good value and not much more expensive than 2nd class. You’ll also be grateful to travel in emptier carriages while 2nd class is full and standing (thinking of Germany).

Some mandatory reservations are a bit more expensive in 1st class. Meanwhile optional reservations in Germany, Austria, Czechia are free through OBB (Austrian Railways).

Your trip looks fabulous btw :)

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These pages will probably help :

https://www.seat61.com/interrail-and-eurail-reservations.htm

https://www.seat61.com/how-to-use-a-eurail-pass.htm

Questions welcome of course !

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Not sure if you’ve found this map yet. It’s not comprehensive, just shows major lines, but it’s a useful planning tool.

https://www.seat61.com/reference/interrail-and-eurail-map.pdf

There are several rail stations by lake Como, for example. 

Since you will have a lot of travel in Italy at the start of your trip, I would consider not using a pass - because there are reservation fees of €13 for each high speed train. Consider paying cash instead here, especially if you can book early.

You might also be able to get a cheaper pass if you can fit Switzerland to Paris portion of your itinerary into a month.

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Thanks very much for your answers and tips.

I’ve been working at this most of the day and getting closer to a final itinerary. My current thinking is as follows. Based on this I think the Eurail 10 days travel, 1st class over 2 months would work well. It currently comes with a Black Friday discount. I would use it for the bigger trips and pay in advance for the smaller ones. I would welcome any tips/suggestions about this itinerary.

  • Rome to Florence with day trips to Pisa, Bologna and Cinque Terre (may stay one night there)
  • Florence to Milan with day trip to Lake Como - not sure if I can afford a night there - still exploring
  • Milan/LakeComo to Venice
  • Venice to Pordenone
  • Pordenone to Vienna - High speed train. I hope it’s not too fast for me to enjoy the scenery
  • Vienna to Prague
  • Prague to Zurich (A stopover night or 2 at Munich is possible)
  • Zurich to Dijon.
  • From Dijon I plan to hire a car and drive to Paris via Givry, Bourges, Loire Valley and Le Mans
  • Paris to London

Rob

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Looks really good. Some advice :

Milan isn't the best Italian city so I'd stay around Lake Como. It might not be a lot more expensive.

Don't worry, Pordenone - Vienna is not high-speed at all, it's a long-distance train but it slowly curves through the Alps. There are a lot of tunnels though.

Between Prague and Zurich you have 2 good night trains (if you don't want to visit Munich) : € for a private single compartment. This journey is best done during the night for sure.

Zurich - Dijon has a 39€ 1st class reservation fee which is a lot. Possible to lower it to 10€ by taking any train to Basel, a regional train to Mulhouse and then the TGV high-speed train. :)

Do not attempt to drive in Paris. Leave the car in Orly Airport, Massy or elsewhere.

Book Paris - London in advance (30€ 2nd class/38€ 1st class with a small meal) but I've already said it.

Last thing : you're missing one of the most scenic trains in the world by a tiny bit, the Bernina & Albula railways between Tirano and Chur. https://www.seat61.com/trains-and-routes/bernina-express.htm

But I don't know how they could fit in your trip : maybe finish Italy and then take the scenic route followed by a night train to Vienna. Or keep it for next time ofc

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Thanks so much for the tips. I will do some more homework right now to see how I can best fit that other train into my itinerary. The itinerary is very flexible, I just want the best adventure. I’ll probably be back for more advice. 

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Ok, I’ve tried to plot your suggestions (between Lake Como and Paris) on a Google map and I think I have it right. This would see me taking the train you’ve suggested (it looks spectacular) and the cheaper options between Zurich and Dijon, if I have it right. Not sure where the the TGV high-speed train you mention runs. Am I on the right path?

Oh, and is the spectacular train ride available on the Eurail package, or do I need to book that separate?

With regard to the Prague to Zurich leg, do you suggest the night train because it’s not good viewing, or another reason?

https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Lake+Como,+Italy/Chur,+Switzerland/Tirano,+Province+of+Sondrio,+Italy/Venice,+Italy/Vienna,+Austria/Prague,+Czechia/Zurich,+Switzerland/Mulhouse,+France/Basel,+Switzerland/Dijon,+France/@47.6233793,4.2172127,6z/data=!4m62!4m61!1m5!1m1!1s0x47843d32820b62f7:0x3e40c4eae898e1e0!2m2!1d9.2571676!2d46.0160486!1m5!1m1!1s0x4784c7768af75b55:0x2b4f78a6d7011f30!2m2!1d9.5319859!2d46.8507835!1m5!1m1!1s0x4783bcd26898182f:0x3281368df0cee78c!2m2!1d10.1696056!2d46.216168!1m5!1m1!1s0x477eaa16cb134829:0x307098715907f10!2m2!1d12.3152672!2d45.4414685!1m5!1m1!1s0x476d079e5136ca9f:0xfdc2e58a51a25b46!2m2!1d16.3718643!2d48.2081664!1m5!1m1!1s0x470b939c0970798b:0x400af0f66164090!2m2!1d14.4378005!2d50.0755381!1m5!1m1!1s0x47900b9749bea219:0xe66e8df1e71fdc03!2m2!1d8.541694!2d47.3768866!1m5!1m1!1s0x47919b6c1d88946b:0x40a5fb99a393360!2m2!1d7.335888!2d47.750839!1m5!1m1!1s0x479049c72769304f:0x361ceb70f36d8a90!2m2!1d7.5885761!2d47.5595986!1m5!1m1!1s0x47f29d8ceffd9675:0x409ce34b31458d0!2m2!1d5.04148!2d47.322047!3e0?entry=ttu

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If you want to see it on a map, there's a much easier way on the Eurail app. Just add the trains you're thinking of taking to a trip in 'My Trip’.

You don't need to have bought a pass to do this, and you can see all your intended journeys on a map or a list

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I tried that but it doesn’t seem to have all the towns available. Did you see my additional questions that I added late?

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I tried that but it doesn’t seem to have all the towns available.

Which ones can't you find?

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I'll have a look at your link. EDIT : the map looks quite confusing but I'm sure you have a clearer plan in your head.

TGV trains run from Zurich to Paris via Dijon but the real high-speed railway begins after Mulhouse : fun experience travelling at 300-320 km/h and it's not the most scenic route anyway ! You'd follow the same route as the TGV but cross the border on a regional train.

Trains on the Bernina route are fully included. You must pay a 25 CHF reservation to travel on the carriages with the big windows but there are alternatives :

- reservation-free carriages at the front of the Bernina Express : less crowded, pull-down windows and in 1st class you can see the driver's cab. :)

- hourly regional trains on the same route : not longer but you have to change twice (easy and straightforward connections)

Zurich - Prague : the route is quite scenic but there's just no real good daytime connections. In that case the night train is the most convenient option.

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Thanks again. 

The google link I sent has the listed towns on the left. I find that easier to see the names. I can zoom in on the map but what I really looked for was to make sure the path is continuous. It’s a drive path, not a train path, so it’s not particularly good

The towns I couldn’t get on the My Trip map included Pordenone, Cinque Terre, and a few others. At any rate, with your help, I think I now have a great route planned, and I haven’t missed the spectacular link you sent me. 

Thanks for your fantastic contribution!

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The towns I couldn’t get on the My Trip map included Pordenone, Cinque Terre, and a few others. At any rate, with your help, I think I now have a great route planned, and I haven’t missed the spectacular link you sent me.

Pordenone is a regular station and it's in the rail planner app. Timetables for regional trains from 10 Dec. are not in the app yet though. Cinque Terre is not a town nor a station.

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For your drive through France, it's worth seeking out the Bis routes that appear on road signs. 

These will take you away from the autoroutes, and onto the scenic route.

https://about-france.com/driving.htm

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I can’t believe how helpful you have all been, thibcabe, ralderton and rvdborgtth. Thank you so very much!!! I just got a reminder that I need to choose the best answer, but you have all contributed so much. I will choose one because I have to, but I am especially grateful to all of you. It is reassuring to know that I have chosen a workable route and that there are a few things along the way that can help me get better value. 

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